I will attempt to explain the log sheet system I use and why it works for me, and then you can decide if you want to try the system yourself.
The workout log sheets I designed for my own use help me to ...
- Know where to start each new workout season.
- Know which exercises to do when even if I miss a few days.
- Know how much weight to use and when it's time to bump up the weight.
- Instantly see my strength improvement over time.
- Workout any number of days per week while still giving muscle groups adequate recovery time.
- Keep my workouts short and simple, while still hitting all basic muscle groups.
Log Sheet Categories
Here is an example of a muscle-group category (chest and laterals) made up of five exercises. Each exercise has fields to record the weight and reps for three sets, and each row in the chart represents a single day.
Note that categories can be labeled as muscle groups, days of the week, or whatever you deem appropriate for your workout plan.
Log Sheet Exercises
Here is an example of how I log the weights and reps for each exercise:
I start the season doing 1 set of each exercise, and then gradually increase to 3 sets.
Once I get to 3 sets, I start using a weight that allows me to do sets of 20, 15, and 12 reps.
Each time I repeat the exercise, I try to increase the 2nd and 3rd sets by at least 1 rep each.
Once I am doing 3 sets of 20 reps, I bump up the weight.
Log Sheet Clipboard
I rig up a clipboard with a mechanical pencil and some velcro, like this:
My Workout Routine
I start each workout session with 10-minutes of stretching.
Next, I do a 20-minute cardio using either an elliptical machine, stair stepper, treadmill, or jump rope (my favorite). Whichever cardio method I decide to use for a particular day, I just try to maintain my target heart rate for the full 20 minutes.
Next, I complete the weight lifting exercises in the category that is due that day (1 row on the sheet), with 60-90 seconds of rest between each set.
Finally, I finish the workout with three core exercises. Typically these consist of 3 30-second sets of seated oblique twists, planks, and leg raises. But I do mix it up with other core exercises, such as crunches, med ball throws, cable machine twists, and more.
The total workout typically takes an hour and fifteen minutes.
Same Muscle Groups, Different Exercises
Since your muscles can become impervious to a given exercise after a period of time (at least in my opinion), I recommend creating and printing sheets that have the same muscle groups, but with a different method for each exercise. You then simply rotate your workout sheets on a periodic basis.
For example, for biceps, one sheet might list "Dumbbell Curls," another might list "Standing Barbell Curls," and another might list "Seated Barbell Curls."
Each muscle group has numerous exercise variations for targeting the group. Alternating exercise variations will not only keep your workout from getting stale, but your muscles may respond more favorably as well.